Iowa HerkyMy brothers and I recently enjoyed the Big Ten and Olympic Trials Wrestling Tournaments, held in Iowa City. We particularly enjoyed visiting with old teammates and loyal fans.

As we get older, we try to come in a day early to an event. This extra day provides us with time to visit old hangouts or friends—and to reminisce. On this recent visit, I cherished the time spent with my old roommate, Mark. And as I walked across campus, a calm came over me—a sense of inner peace, I suppose.

Thirty-eight years earlier we had stepped onto the University of Iowa campus. Very few individuals from our biological or adoptive families had attended college. Going to a Big Ten school, a four-year university, marked new ground indeed for the three Banach boys.

We came to Iowa City with high hopes and big dreams. Everything was new and anything was possible.

We had little money, but we had something more important—drive, determination, and a desire to contribute. We worked consistently, and we didn’t have much time to reflect on anything. We trained, we studied, and we learned.

Not too long ago, my mind flashed back to those heady but stressful days in the late 1970s. Strolling across the Iowa Pentacrest, I toggled between 1978 and 2016. Inwardly I asked myself whether if I had met my dreams, those aspirations set so long ago. Of course, my athletic box got the passing check mark as I started to grade.

But more importantly, I graduated from Iowa with a tested mind, yet an unfilled curiosity. My curiosity, focused on continuous learning (the seeds were planted) and the courage to accept new challenges or opportunities, has made an important difference. Long ago, I stopped being competitive and comparing myself to others.

Back in Iowa City, I remember rationing my limited money as I would ride my bike from wrestling practice to my apartment. What would I buy for dinner this evening with my limited budget on the way to my apartment? Sometimes I couldn’t afford as much food as I would have liked.

Everything worked out in the end. Today I am blessed with a good job and a decent standard of living. Iowa holds a special place in my heart because that’s where I met Kim, also an Iowa grad. We will celebrate our 31st wedding anniversary in June.

Kim and I have stressed family and faith over all else. In raising our three children, we have been guided by both sets of parents in placing a priority on family. We could not have had better role models.

All these things went through my head as I finished my walk in Iowa City and neared my Yukon.

While doing so, I reveled in the simple peace I felt. At that time, at that moment, everything was right in my world. I experienced the simple joy of being alive, and being part of something (the Hawkeye family) so much larger than myself.

The relationships we started so long ago—and nurtured through the years—remain our most important Iowa milestone. It is a place where we go to recharge, reengage, and yes, reminisce.